As an aspiring or professional dog trainer, you certainly want to be a leap and a bound ahead of the crowd to establish yourself as an expert in your profession.
Of course you want to be sure you are offering your clients and their dogs the best possible guidance. But more than that, if you choose dog training as your lifelong profession, it will shape your work and personal life for decades to come. The enrichment of continued learning will be as important to you as it is for the dogs you train!
Why is continued learning important for a vibrant dog training career?
We tell our clients that when it comes to training their dog, learning is lifelong. The skills and understanding they learn in your positive training sessions is intended to open the door to a lifetime of new experiences together.
It’s true for humans as well. In an exciting professional life, a strong educational foundation is important but learning should never stop. With ongoing education:
- You stay excited about your profession and avoid boredom. New learning breathes excitement into a career that may stretch for decades.
- You increase your visibility when you network in person at events, appear regularly in online course rosters, ask questions, and interact with speakers. You can share your new knowledge in your own classes, on social media, in video, and on your website.
- You continue to build trust with your clients and community because you have new knowledge to help them and a strong professional network that provides additional support and referral opportunities.
- You can grow your business and increase fees as needed over time because your proven expertise will provide your clients with additional courses and increased value.
- You gain confidence. Increased socialization with peers and exposure to new ideas gives you a sense of belonging to a professional community as well as confidence in your own skills.
- You create an agile mindset that can keep your business flexible. For example, perceptive dog trainers took advantage of the pandemic by moving their in-person training online.
What learning opportunities are available to dog trainers?
- Attend dog behavior and training conferences. Online conferences like the Dog Behavior Conference are affordable (and no travel costs!) and offer recorded video sessions that you can also access later. In-person conferences are a great opportunity to network face-to-face with other professionals and enjoy getting away from your home turf for a little while.
- Join professional animal behavior associations and subscribe to the journals and email newsletters they publish or recommend. You’ll get a heads up on what’s happening in your profession.
- Podcasts are a no-stress, no-cost way to tap into the expertise of dog trainers you admire, any time you like. Victoria’s Positively Podcasts is a great place to start.
- Take advantage of an online course of study. Online education is a convenient and usually affordable way to continue your dog training and behavior education. At VSA, we offer both an online Dog Trainer Course and online learning and an additional In-Person track.
- Learn from a mentor – an experienced dog trainer willing to provide guidance, advice, feedback and support.
- Create connections with fellow animal experts. A coffee meetup, an online chat or phone call, or even hosting an informal meet and greet for nearby pet professionals can knock down walls of isolation, open up opportunities for referrals, and create valuable friendships.
Knock the learning door wide open with the Victoria Stilwell Academy
By staying up-to-date with the latest techniques and trends in dog training, you can expand your skills and knowledge, offer your clients the best possible services, and keep your fascination in dog training and behavior alive and growing. The Victoria Stilwell Academy offers courses for every skill and experience level. There’s both an online Dog Trainer Course and an In-Person Track with both virtual and in-person learning intensives (including hands-on live dog training) with Victoria and other faculty, a local mentor to shadow at home, live Cyber Classes with fellow classmates and enhanced learning assessments. Check out VSA’s courses at every level!